NEW ORLEANS (BP) — The late Paul Harvey’s tribute “So God Made a Farmer” was given new life during Super Bowl XLVII Feb. 3, propelling a simple and somber Dodge Ram ad to the top of the popularity chart, past scantily-clad women and the usual commercial hype.
The iconic radio broadcaster delivered his ode in 1978 at a Future Farmers of America convention, adding to the Genesis creation account by stating, “And on the eighth day, God looked down on His planned paradise and said, ‘I need a caretaker.’ So God made a farmer.”
He went on to list the daily toils of the American farmer: “God said, ‘I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper, then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.’ So God made a farmer.”
The two-minute Dodge Ram ad, which aired in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, ranked third in the USA Today ad meter, just behind Anheuser-Busch and Tide.
Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, tweeted that the Dodge Ram commercial was the best of the Super Bowl “and nobody was half-dressed.” He later added, “After all is said and done with the #SuperBowl, I just want to be a farmer.”
Owen Strachan, executive director of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, tweeted, “The commercial breaks show the polar Americas: one loving nobility & honor & country, the other loving lust & hedonism & self.”
Strachan later added, “Is it exaggerating to say that the RAM commercial has potentially restored some civic hope? I think not. We are not alone. Fight on.”
Dave Miller of the blog SBC Voices wrote, “Right after the Dodge Ram commercial about farmers, my Twitter feed lit up. For the people I follow, that commercial was the unquestioned winner of the night.”
Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, tweeted in regard to the ad, “Loved it!!!”
Secular commentators also raved about the truck ad, with TIME magazine columnist James Poniewozik tweeting, “loved the Paul Harvey Ram ad in spite of myself. Almost Johnny Cash-like raw Americana wordpower.”
Chrysler said the Ram brand commissioned 10 noted photographers including one from National Geographic to take photos of American farmers and farm scenes for the commercial.
The Ram brand has declared 2013 the Year of the Farmer, according to its website, ramtrucks.com. The website urges visitors to “Join the movement. Help the next generation of farmers. Support FFA.”
“From healthy food to reliable American jobs, farming is a vital part of the American way of life,” ramtrucks.com states. “So for every view of our ‘Farmer’ video, the Ram brand will make a donation to FFA. Help us reach our goal of $1 million.”
Harvey’s tribute to farmers ends, “It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed and breed and rake and disk and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk.
“Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft, strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh and then reply with smiling eyes when his son says that he wants to spend his life doing what dad does. So God made a farmer.”
Theologians have long referred to Adam, the first man, as the first farmer. Genesis 2:15 says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”
Erin Roach is assistant editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).